I stopped in the Mind Blown Studio in Deadwood and watched owner Toni Gerlach teaching another gal the art of hot glass blowing. I have seen glass blowing on TV but never in person, and it was cool…the molten glass…not so cool.
The first photo below shows the glass attached to the end of a long metal pole being heated in the furnace. I didn’t ask how hot the furnace was, but from the glow probably 1000 degrees or more. About the same temperature my dad would grill our steaks on when we were kids. They came out looking like charcoal patties. But I digress.
They would stick the pole back into the furnace a few times as they continued to shape the glass. The pole is like a giant metal straw, in the third photo you can see Tori blowing air through the pole to expand the super-heated glass on the other end. They would turn the glass on what looked like oiled newspaper, they did this to remove any bumps or waves in the glass. The final step she heated the glass in the furnace one more time and then hung it on a rack to cool down, maybe around 30 seconds or so.
Then they headed over to what I would call a shaping mold. One gal stood up on a step holding the pole vertical, while the other cradled the glass inside the mold and she turned the pole a few times and wallah, out came a perfectly shaped glass cup! See the final photo below of the cup shape. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the finished glass cup since it was accidentally dropped while trying to detach the “drinking end” from the metal pole. It was sure fun to watch, and will definitely give this a try sometime. See below for more information on Mind Blown Studio.
About Mind Blown Studio
Located in the heart of historic Deadwood, SD you will find an experience like no other. The retro Texaco station now houses a hot glass blowing studio. The service bays have been rejuvenated into a hot glass shop where spectators can watch molten glass transformed into glass sculptors by Deadwood’s own master gaffer. All items are available for purchase. Spectators can also enjoy hot coffee, beer, wine, and a variety of cold drinks. Hot glass demonstrations, classes, and one-of-a-kind gifts make this studio, deli, and coffee shop unique.
Experience the fascinating and exciting art form of hot glass blowing. Discover the unique qualities of molten glass as you manipulate it to create a one-of-a–kind piece. All classes are private, and you work beside an experienced instructor. No prior experience is necessary to enroll and participate in available classes.
About Tori Gerlach
“From a young age I have always been fascinated with glass. Originally from Las Vegas I remember looking up at the sea of glass on the Bellagio’s ceiling and knowing that I wanted to learn the amazing art form. For my 15th birthday my mother enrolled me in a glass blowing class, much like those I offer today in my own studio. This was my first experience working with glass and I was hooked! I immediately enrolled in a three-month course. During this time, I realized I wanted to truly pursue glass blowing as a career. I then continued and still am continuing to learn the amazing craft. It is truly my life’s passion and I endeavor every day to develop my own style and push my limits with this incredible medium.”
Toni Gerlach, BA Visual Arts
Toni has studied visual arts and glass blowing at California State University San Marcos and completed apprenticeships at a variety of glass blowing studios in California, New York, Nevada, and South Dakota. Toni has her art at various art show competitions and has placed in the professional division.
Pump House at Mind Blown Studio is a unique venue that mixes education, entertainment, and fine art. Toni welcomes correspondence at email@example.com or 605-571-1071